St. John’s University, Queens Campus, Spring 2017

Section 13467: 9:05 - 10:30am Mon and Thu, SJU 208

Dr. Matthew Lewis Sutton

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Office: St. John’s University, Queens Campus, St. John’s Hall B20–27

Student Hours: 8:30 - 9:00am; 1:00 - 2:00pm Mon and Thu, or by appointment

718.990.5052 | | | @doctorsutton

Your Course Website:

Undergraduate Bulletin: “Prerequisite: THE 1000C. The theology of the Christian community: its Scriptural warrants and history, issues such as: the role of the Church in salvation, the relation between the local and universal Church, Vatican II, ecumenism, authority. Credit: 3 semester hours.”

This course provides the student with a Christian theological encounter of the mystery of the Church with particular attention to the Church’s foundations in the Old and Testaments as well as the contemporary situation of the Church in the Postmodern Age. The student will see that, for Christians, the Church is the essential assembly where one encounters the God revealed in Jesus Christ and encounters each other as his people formed for him. The student will also see that this belief about the Church affects how Christians interpret the world, the human person, and culture. In addition, the student will be challenged to evaluate intellectually the future of the Church in the twenty-first century.

By the conclusion of the course, the student should be able:

  • to articulate (in writing and speaking) knowledge of Christian perspectives of the Church
  • to analyze critically scripture and other theological texts pertaining to the Church
  • to appreciate intellectually the biblical and early church documents foundational place within Christian faith’s understandings of the Church
  • to express the issues facing the Church in the postmodern age and appreciate the Church’s place within the developing cultures of the twenty-first century

Course Texts: Required:

  • Bible, must be an appropriate translation for academic work, such as the RSV, NRSV, NAB, NABre, NIV, ESV, NKJV. (recommended translation The Ignatius Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Second Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780898708349 Paperback or Kindle. If you have questions, see me.
  • Gerhard Lohfink. Does God Need the Church?: Toward a Theology of the People of God. Translated by Linda M. Maloney. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999. ISBN: 0814659284. Paperback or Kindle.
  • Philip Jenkins. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199767465 Paperback or Kindle.
  • Pope Francis. The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium. Vatican City: Vatican, 2013. ISBN 9780819875051. Online.
  • Vatican II. Pastoral Constitution in the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium et Spes. Vatican City: Vatican, 1965. Online.
  • Vatican II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. Vatican City: Vatican, 1964. Online.

Course Structure:

Four learning units structure the course. The first two units on the Old Testament and the New Testament will explore the foundations of the Christianity’s beliefs about the Church. The third and four will examine these foundations manifested in the twenty and twenty-first century. The third unit grasps toward mastering the Second Vatican Council teaching about the Roman Catholic Church. The final fourth unit engages analyzing the new realities of Christianity in the twenty-first century, particularly with its significant transformations of the global south. These four learning units will have assignments and assessments designed to give you an initial mastery of Christian understandings about the Church and its dynamic future, ending with an important reflection on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium.

Learning Assessment:

In this course, you can earn 100 points. You earn these points by successfully completing the following:

  • Class Participation: active engagement (questioning, answering, discussing) = 10 points
  • Encountering the Church Assignment Sheets (graded orally or handed in) = 22 points (1 point each)
  • Occasion of Joy Exams = 20 points (2 exams)
  • Occasion of Exploration Paper = 8 points (1 short paper)
  • Occasion of Jubilation Final Research Paper = 15 points
  • Occasion of Exaltation Final Cumulative Exam = 25 points

Progress reports will be emailed to you at the beginning of every month.

Grading Scale:

A = 100 - 93 points (100 - 93%); A- = 92 - 90 points (92 - 90 %); B+ = 89 - 87 points (89 - 87%); B = 86 - 83 points (86 - 83%); B- = 82 - 80 points (82 - 80%); C+ = 79 - 77 points (79 - 77%); C = 76 - 73 points (76 - 73%); C- = 72 - 70 points (72 - 70%); D+ = 69 - 67 points (69 - 67%); D = 66 - 60 points (66 - 60%); F = 59 - 0 points (59 - 0%)

We are at our best when:

  • We act with Academic Integrity, which means no plagiarism, no cheating, no damaging of other people’s work, and no assisting someone else’s dishonesty. Plagiarism is the act of appropriating and using the ideas, writings, or works of another person as your own without giving proper citation to the person who created it. I will follow the university’s procedure for plagiarism and discipline to the highest extent allowable, which can include an “F” for this course and the act of plagiarism noted in your academic file. Any further offenses entail suspension or expulsion.
  • We are Actively Engaged with each other. As a student, you must attend class regularly, attentively, and promptly with readings and assignments completed. As a professor, I must be available to you for encouraging and guiding you to excel in your education. St. John’s College mandates “Regular and prompt attendance is expected of all students and is an individual student’s responsibility. Absence from class does not excuse a student from any work missed. There is no penalty for absence from class considered in itself. Students are, however, responsible for all announced exams and for submitting all assignments given in class at the proper time. Ignorance of such exams and assignments is not an acceptable excuse for failure to complete them.”
  • You are Responsible for Everything said in class. You are responsible for getting class notes from another student. Only after you have received and read those notes can you contact me with further questions about the class.
  • We do not use any Digital Devices inappropriately during class time such as cell phones, text messaging, mp3 players, tablets, or laptops. If you do not follow this policy, you will not be able to earn participation points for the class meeting. If it continues to be a problem, your overall point total will be reduced according to the severity of your lack of engagement. ASK PERMISSION IF YOU NEED TO USE A LAPTOP OR TABLET FOR NOTE TAKING AND READING ASSIGNMENTS.
  • We turn in our Assignments and Papers promptly as directed by the professor. Even if you are absent, you are still responsible for turning in your assignments by the beginning of class or as directed. If your assignment is late, your grade for that assignment will be lowered at least by 10% for each day that it is late. Your grade will continue to be lowered to zero at my discretion until it is submitted.
  • We attend Prepared for all Exams and the Final Cumulative Exam and these should not be missed. If you cannot attend an exam, you must consult me in advance and receive clear approval from me. No make-up exams will be given unless you receive clear approval beforehand or as determined by me. Since the dates of the exams are clearly communicated to you, it is unlikely that you will receive approval.
  • We learn because We Are Human and we desire to know the truth about the divine, the world, and ourselves. We strive for Excellence without Excuses.